He had an impression that he was weaving
He had an impression that he was weaving a net around the woman, carefully, systematically, and suddenly, when everything was ready, would
'He told me to tell her,' said the trader, 'that if at any time she wanted him she only had to send and he'd come.'
'What did she say when you told her that?'
'She didn't say nothing. I didn't stop. I just said what he said I was to and then I beat it. I thought she might be going to start weepin'.
' I have no doubt the loneliness is getting on her nerves,' said the doctor. 'And the rain-that's enough to make anyone jumpy,' he continued irritably. 'Doesn't it ever stop in this confounded place?'
'It goes on pretty steady in the rainy season. We have three hundred inches in the year. You see, it's the shape of the bay. It seems to attract the rain from all over the Pacific.'
'Damn the shape of the bay,' said the doctor.
He scratched his mosquito bites. He felt very short-tempered. When the rain stopped and the sun shone, it was like a hot-house, seething, humid, sultry, breathless, and you had a strange feeling that everything was growing with a savage violence. The natives, blithe and childlike by reputation, seemed then, with their tattooing and their dyed hair, to have something sinister in their appearance; and when they pattered along at your heels with their naked feet you looked back instinctively. You felt they might at any moment come behind you swiftly and thrust a long knife between your shoulder-blades. You could not tell what dark thought lurked behind their wide-set eyes. They had a little the look of ancient Egyptians painted on a temple wall, and there was about them the terror of what is immeasurably old.
The missionary came and went. He was busy, but the Macphails did not know what he was doing. Horn told the doctor that he saw the governor every day, and once Davidson mentioned him.
'He looks as if he had plenty of determination,' he said, 'but when you come down to brass tacks he has no backbone.'
'I suppose that means he won't do exactly what you want,' suggested the doctor facetiously.
The missionary did not smile.
' I want him to do what's right. It shouldn't be necessary to persuade a man to do that.'
'But there may be differences of opinion about what is right.'
'If a man had a gangrenous foot would you have patience with anyone who hesitated to amputate it?'
'Gangrene is a matter of fact.'
What Davidson had done soon appeared. The four of them had just finished their midday meal, and they had not yet separated for the siesta, which the heat imposed on the ladies and on the doctor. Davidson had little patience with the slothful habit. The door was suddenly flung open and Miss Thompson came in She looked round the room and then went up to Davidson.
'You low-down skunk, what have you been saying about me to the governor?'
She was spluttering with rage. There was a moment's pause. Then the missionary drew forward a chair.
'Won't you be seated. Miss Thompson? I've been hoping to have another talk with you.'
'You poor low-life bastard.'
She burst into a torrent of insult, foul and insolent. Davidson kept his grave eyes on her.
'I'm indifferent to the abuse you think fit to heap on me. Miss Thompson,' he said, 'but I must beg you to remember that ladies are present.'
Tears by now were struggling with her anger. Her face was red and swollen as though she was choking.
'What has happened?' asked Dr Macphail.
'A feller's just been in here and he says I gotter beat it on the next boat.'
Was there a gleam in the missionary's eyes? His face remained impassive.
'You could hardly expect the governor to let you stay here under the circumstances.'
'You done it,' she shrieked. 'You can't kid me. You done it.'
'I don't want to deceive you. I urged the governor to take the only possible step consistent with his obligations.'
'Why couldn't you leave me be? I wasn't doin' you no harm.'
'You may be sure that if you had I should be the last man to resent it.'
'Do you think I want to stay on in this poor imitation of a burg? I don't look no busher, do I?'
'In that case I don't see what cause of complaint you have,' he answered.
She gave an inarticulate cry of rage and flung out of the room. There was a short silence.